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A beginner’s take on “Europe’s most important business services sector event”

SlavyanaKrushovenskaIf you are in the industry and are still brainstorming what could this “most important” event be, then I take it there’s indeed a slight exaggeration on the organisers’ part. Cutting the suspense, the event in question is the 6th ABSL (Association of Business Service Leaders in Poland) Conference in Krakow, Poland.

ABSL organises annually this sector event, turning it into a major platform for discussions on the development strategy for the Polish economy, bringing hundreds of guests, among which business and political leaders. This year’s honoured speaker, for example, was Mr Tony Blair, who delivered his analysis on the globalisation worldwide and how this affects the business and labour market, ultimately us, to confirm what everyone worth their salt in the field already knew – the change in course is here to stay and we better do something about it. Or, as the big Jack Welch advised years ago, “Change before you have to” is more like it.

Day 0. Welcome drink, party on a boat, networking Round 1

Krakow is absolutely gorgeous. A boat coasted in the bottom of the Wawel Hill is even more so. The people on it are more than happy to meet you and greet you with a drink, make fast friends, always keeping an eye on the big players. In my way of thinking, there is no such thing as big and small, as long as you can identify your opportunities together and do something about it. Day 0 end: goodnight walk by the river, even better goodnight sleep in the hotel.

Day 1. Mixed feelings…pardon, presentations

The main theme of the conference this year was “The powerhouse of Europe – Poland as the undisputed leader in business services on the Continent.” Needless to say, we spent hours and hours, report after report, presented in a superior manner, on the achievements of Poland in the field. Fine, we get it – Poland is big, the business services industry there is big, even bigger is the number of jobs created by the industry in Poland. This show off part is understandable, since that’s the main reason behind the conference, however, it could get old pretty soon for the foreign guests, who came to check in with old partners, find new ones and share experience and plans for the future of the industry worldwide. Fine opportunity for another outsider (i.e. non-Polish delegate) to bond with them in the coffee breaks, so we don’t feel so much like we don’t belong to the great Go Poland! team.

The second part of the day and the panel discussions there were great improvement. This was the place for some of the great drivers from the leading companies in the industry to speak up, finally get the attention of those who came to see how the land lies, where we are at currently in the sector and where we are going.

Guess what the keyword here is? Right the first time – DIGITAL. FYI, digital is the new black; Big Data is the best; robots are the cherry on the top. Mobility, Big Data, Clouds and Security are now shaping the customers’ expectations and service designs. The digitalisation of everything is becoming a reality. Everyone starts to think what is the answer to the question “what makes me and my company a technology enabled leader? How do I stay on board with the cool guys and the cool trends, instead of getting laughed out of business? Lucky for me, I come from A Data Pro, where we are far ahead and we have an action plan.

Day 2. Breakout streams

This is the day where we split by interests. We are offered a petri dish of topics we’d like to dissect. The digital halo, of course, never leaves us. In the light of this halo, there are four key topics the organisers selected for us (I don’t think I want to reword those, so I am taking these straight from the source, they were quite original, as you’d see): 1. Growth! (obviously there we discussed the scope of expansion and acceleration of growth in the new Era); 2. Cookies for Rookies (or industry challengers and business services start-ups – here we focused on transition and operational excellence solutions); 3. Talent – the Recipe for Success (what can I say, this one speaks for itself, i.e. WE ARE OUR PEOPLE) and 4. Technology Multipliers (of course, a good word was to be said for the next mega trends in IT services…ROBOTICS).

What they thought us: Disruptors don’t follow the rules! as Reuven Gorsht, Global Vice President, Customer Strategy, SAP said. Innovation does not follow the rules…Remember that. We, at A Data Pro know it.

Time to wrap up the conference, as well as my rambling. Major blunder on part of the organisers here, I still can’t believe it, neither could the other non-Polish…In a panel discussion right in the end of two days of English presentations, there they come, the panelists in the last one – Poland’s former president, Poland’s former Minister of Finance, GE Poland and Baltics’ CEO and the facilitator, after an impromptu discussion we suddenly heard something of the sort: Why not? Polish is a beautiful language; let’s have this discussion in Polish…An echo of are-you-kiddings-me resounds. It would have been thematic in this digital era, if we were provided with some headphones, streaming English translation, don’t you think?